Before stepping back to Year 1000 in POX 5, let’s briefly look at this devastating cover to POX 6. Already we’ve speculated about this image, that it speaks to the potential tragic fallout of Moira’s own hubris. (Why would she otherwise be the one left standing?) The only other thing to mention for now is that those trees do resemble cherry blossoms, symbolic for the Japanese of the ephemerality of life.
Previously: More in the Hickman X-Men Re-Read!
I. Year 1000: Nimrod’s Dubious Council (POX 5, pgs22-27)
Returning to Year 1000 at the end of POX 5, we pick back up with the posthuman Elder facing the Phalanx following their arrival on Earth—and then having their body—and thus biological mind—eaten!
Later, we’re back in the Librarian’s archive, which really looks like Krakoa’s Arbor Magna. We also have the series’ third reference to the Prometheus myth (following Mother Mold’s rant and the way Magneto referred to the Five); here, Nimrod is referring to terrestrial technology and the posthumans—while managing to downplay such achievements in relation to Dominions.
Fascinatingly, Nimrod speaks as well here of ultimate machines—beyond the terrestrial understanding of technology. Of course, with quantum computing and nanotechnology around the corner in our own world, talk of molecular and ultimately particle machinery isn’t new in technology articles and sci-fi. (As we get into below, perhaps Proteus intersecting somehow with these primal-matter machine gods would prove explosive with potential.)
Also, we find out here that posthumans have at least already theorized the existence of Titan societies. So, we also return to talk of Titans (of which Prometheus was one).
On p25, we have a strange view of Nimrod’s “face”; maybe it’s a map of wormholes—a machine brain spanning the universe?
Nimrod acknowledges they “attracted a predator” while still assuming the Phalanx are Technarch servants. Yet regardless, he doesn’t question, unlike the Librarian, that “the history and consciousness of this planet” will continue inside a singularity.
But whose “history and consciousness,” really? Certainly not those the posthumans have done away with!
Lastly, looking at the data page on Universal Societies, the definition of Titan societies mostly reiterates what the Librarian has just said, but it’s noted here that they’re “isolationist” and “hermetic.” Meanwhile, Strongholds are the opposite, being aggressively expansionist. Fascinatingly, we’ll see Moira use this word below (in POX 6).
And Titans—never Strongholds apparently—compose Dominions.
Comics critic Rob Secundus has given fascinating insight on Hickman’s use of angelology terms here (skip down to Page 29, as they numbered it).
Most fascinating here, however, is that universal abstracts like Eternity and the Living Tribunal treat Dominions as naturally occurring phenomena in the multiverse. And their only natural predators are Galactus and the Phoenix—which we’re reminded here is “the singular universal manifestation of life.”
Interestingly, Namor appeared this issue, and his epigraph closes it out, on the very next page. Interesting because he himself hosted the Phoenix once (something Xavier certainly never experienced).
Meanwhile, Galactus himself is a survivor of a previous universe (or, all the present multiverse’s Galactuses are such survivors; so he’s endured multiverses).
[Galactus stepping into the Ultimate Universe, which didn’t really have its own.]
II. Year 1: Imminent Future (Dawn of X) and Distant Past (Oxford Meet-Cute Redux) (POX 6, pgs1-9):
The epigraph “And now we build” and the title “House of X” point toward the impending Dawn of X. Yet we turn the page, and we’re back at the beginning of Xavier’s new life.
POX 6’s opening splash page is also chronologically our first glimpse of Year 1—but why was it left out of POX 1? After all, the rest of this initial scene here is exactly the same as what we find in that first issue.
There are two possibilities. Most obviously, it’s refreshing that the scene isn’t completely identical, and having this new opening image allows readers to look at this added flashback page with the understanding of all that’s occurred between POX 1 and 6.
Of course, we’ll also get to see the completion of this earliest Year 1 scene after the reveal of Year 1000 as Moira’s sixth life.
But remember: In this scene, Moira gives Xavier the entirety of her eidetic memories, from all ten lives! Unsurprising that he’s going to be overloaded—Life Six alone would’ve broken any sane telepath…
That brings us back to POX 6’s subtitle: “When They Learn the Truth”—where “they” might be humans but could also very well be all the other mutants/Krakoans unaware of what Xavier and Magneto have been up to with Moira. After all, this chapter is titled “House of X,” and what’s beneath the House of X but Moira’s No-Space?
III. Year 1000: The Preserve (pgs10-23)
While it’s not Krakoa, Year 1000’s Preserve is the closest thing to a wilderness we’ve seen in these futures that Moira’s lived through. Like the Krakoan landscape, however, it’s a product of sophisticated artifice—albeit by different (posthuman) means. And maybe it’s a throwaway nod to the classic sci-fi trope of “uplift,” but these bulbous-headed elephants with their strange brow markings definitely appear to be “uplifted” (i.e., endowed with increased sentience and/or the ability to communicate with other sentients).
Also, this Preserve is both Edenic and carceral—but certainly, for someone like Wolverine, a cage is a cage is a cage.
After the startling appearance of Logan as a prisoner of the Preserve in the Year 1000, the next reveal is that this is clearly the first time the Librarian has spoken with him and Moira. Which is interesting because he’s obviously been watching and studying them for a long time.
The close-up of the lower portion of the Librarian’s face on page 14 is eerily similar to like close-ups of Year 10 Xavier throughout HOX/POX—another parallel between the Librarian and the Professor. But beyond pointing out such parallels, we’re left no closer to understanding what it’s all about.
Our first glimpse of Moira in Year 1000 isn’t quite as surprising as Logan popping up unexpectedly, and shortly it’s revealed how she stayed so fit and youthful-looking—but her appearance is startling and inexplicable until we discover on the next page that she shares Logan’s extremely rare (and wholly fictional) blood type (E).
The Librarian gives the Preserve’s inmates a chilling vision of the future that no ordinary human—or mutant—would want any part of.
(The Librarian in partial profile on page 16 seems to be the first time we’ve seen how elongated his head is, or at least it strikes me as longer here than elsewhere—somewhat reminiscent of the Maker, though not grotesque.)
And as the Librarian reveals his knowledge of Moira’s mutant ability and explains his strategy for surviving her death—by making it to the nearest black hole, a gateway beyond space-time—he reaches for a flower eerily similar to the Krakoan variety (also seen in Year 100, when Xorn plucked one from Doug/Krakoa). But again, no explanation is given. Has some piece of Krakoa survived? Who. Knows.
In any case, as Logan demands to know, why is the Librarian telling an immortal mutant all his plans? Because, as mentioned throughout this reread, he doesn’t trust his own people’s goals for “Ascension” and “godhood.” He’s, as he says, “conflicted” over the “immaterial” nature of his destiny—“a fake existence.”
But he’s still an insufferable, pompous ass. And if before he seemed more of an observer, here he appears to have a penchant for icy arrogance.
Still, is there any truth to his claim that mutants never foresaw post-humanity’s emergence? If true, this would imply that the X-Men never encountered the Children of the Vault before—maybe not even until Life Ten. (And wouldn’t Weapon Plus/X experiments be included in posthuman experimentation?)
The Librarian also explicitly reveals here that the engineering of weaponized machine intelligence has always been a ruse by (post)humanity to “buy time” against mutants, to engineer themselves beyond those who would otherwise outcompete them. He’s giving Moira crucial intelligence for the next life.
He’s also telling her that the intelligences of the black hole-dwelling Dominions exist outside space-time, meaning that they likely understand Moira’s power. So, now she knows something of the ultimate enemy. What she doesn’t know is that Rasputin IV, the Cardinal, and Omega Sentinel of Year 100 might return, given their fate in a black hole.
Lastly here, but as we’ll also see below in Moira’s Journal, she doubtless knows now about “strongholds,” the type of Universal Society one step removed from Dominions. So, perhaps she did influence Sinister’s experimentation in Life Nine (although she clearly wants little to do with him in Life Ten), and maybe even Krakoa itself could be in her view a stepping-stone to a secure mutant version of a Stronghold—which would, like its namesake, seek to rival Dominion-level societies. (And Sinister certainly played no role in Life Six since it’s clear that mutants never earnestly tampered with their own genetic engineering.)
There’s some satisfaction in Logan ending this icicle of a human swiftly, but how do we know he didn’t already have his consciousness copied and stored in a little drone like the elder had? Then again, if he had and could’ve avoided being killed here as well, what would he have to gain?
And then, the inevitable occurs, beautifully, tragically echoing Moira’s death in Life Nine/POX 3—which gains further poignancy here in that we now know that she knew at the end of Life Nine that Logan had ended her in the same manner long before, while Life-Nine Logan might never have known.
IV. Year 1: The Secret Breaking of Xavier-Life X (pgs24-28)
Of course, it’s not just Life Six, but all of it—Moira’s existence is just too much for Xavier to handle at once, though Moira isn’t apologetic in the least.
This completion of the initial Year 1 scene casts Xavier in a new light, one perceptive readers would’ve already guessed at: After Moira’s mind-dump, he’s going to be at sea without her constant guidance. Disturbingly here, though, is Xavier’s initial response to her dire conclusion that they always lose, but it’s easy to miss at first glance. That’s to say, the Professor was never “selective” with recruiting students in terms of choosing the right tools to fight against human atrocities. This is a very bizarre statement for him to make. Maybe he’s just grasping at straws, but in Year 10 we now see the kind of Charles Xavier who is just that calculating. (But I am curious what his idea of a “broader appeal” to humanity might’ve entailed.)
More startling still than his initial befuddlement is Xavier’s going dewy-eyed following Moira’s kiss—after all, he just experienced her memories of rejecting him in favor of, first, Magneto, and then Apocalypse, who murders Xavier, presumably at her behest—in her most recent prior life!
And now, in Life X, Moira tells Xavier she’s going to “break” his goodness. So, the man we see in Year 10 is undoubtedly a person who is no longer his own. He’s been remade by Moira’s experience, vision, and will.
If Xavier’s been manipulating Krakoans toward far-reaching ideological ends, which could very well backfire into a Year 100-style dystopia, it’s actually Moira who started the process of weaponizing mutants.
Xavier will have much to answer for, but as the woman behind the man, Moira will have the final say in justifying her inhumanity.
Lastly here, there’s a nice contrast between pages 22 and 28—the sun or artificial light source between Moira and Logan as he kills her; and the sunset between her and Xavier as they walk off together. I’m not sure what the connection might be other than the series’ general theme of death and reunion.
V. Moira’s Journal (pgs29-31)
In the first entry we get to see of Moira’s surprise journal, we get the basics of her now-infamous meet-cute with Xavier at Oxford. She has an eidetic memory and initially wanted to share it only once with Xavier. The rest is Moira reminding and interpreting for him. But soon enough, she knows a day will come when she’ll have to share again with Xavier, and Entry 14 speaks to her fear that it may break him.
That fracturing of Xavier’s psyche is what longtime fans will read as the origin of the execrable Onslaught (which was certainly “unexpected”)—which is a neat way of explaining an otherwise entirely atrocious period of X history!
It’s also fascinating to see how much she’s changed since Life Three: “It’s shameful how much he wants to love these people. He will learn.”
Back then, she wanted to be one of “these people”; she wasn’t ready to learn—until Destiny made her.
So, Moira owes her worldview in large part to Destiny.
Perhaps more mysteriously than the possible gesture at Onslaught’s origin is Entry 14’s intimation that Moira has begun to feel “repercussions” for trying to manipulate Xavier and Magneto (although this entry must’ve been written long before the Island M meeting, given her mention of intimacy with Charles sounding like a relatively recent thing).
Entry 17 appears to speak to their earliest notion of “mutant technology” or a “power circuit.” But this is very early, presumably sometime before the O5 came together—since she’s talking here about finding a way to give birth to a matter-manipulating mutant, which is what her son (by another man) will prove to be. Readers will probably discover the details on what exactly happened in Hickman’s eventual limited series focusing solely on Moira. (It’s also hard to tell when Proteus’ birth might’ve been relative to Legion’s.) Regardless, perhaps Proteus could prove useful against Dominions—or even in creating a Stronghold?
Anyhow, it’s strange that five entries later we’re up to speed with the Island M meeting. What’s telling here, though, is that Moira’s fear or cautiousness over Magneto’s perceived rage helps retroactively explain her attempted tampering with his genetics (see X-Men #104, 1977, and X-Men vol2 #1-3, 1991) after he’d been turned into a baby (by someone else; see Defenders #16, 1974).
More astoundingly, this entry tells of Moira “successfully imprint[ing] the idea of stronghold in his mind”—meaning, places like Faraway (Life Five), but more importantly, implicitly referring to Stronghold societies (as mentioned above). So, although her tampering with his genetics went nowhere, this revelation explains Magneto’s penchant for mutant-ruled enclaves (Asteroid M; Genosha; now Krakoa; even Island M). However, he seems unaware of Moira’s hand in this!
Seven entries later, we’re already at Apocalypse’s early published appearances in X-Factor, not long at all after the Island M meeting. This means Moira’s journaling really picked up in the ’80s! I wonder what role she played in preventing “certain Omega-level mutants falling under his sway”—and which ones they were.
Jumping ahead almost twenty entries(!), we arrive at some point after the Bar Sinister meeting, which Moira is very unhappy about. It’s ironic, though, that she complains of pompous men trying to bend others to their will—isn’t that what she’s been doing for so long?
52 places us at X-Men vol2 #1-3 (1991)—so again, recalling that Xavier visited Bar Sinister in his hoverchair, which first appeared courtesy Forge and Shi’ar tech in the first issue of that new X-Men series, his visit alongside Magneto must’ve taken place just before Magneto’s discovery of Moira’s tampering with his mind (many years after the fact of course).
And a mere five entries later, we’ve jumped across almost the entire decade of the ’90s to arrive sometime before Moira’s (faked) “death” in X-Men vol2 #108 (2001).
As for the maddeningly redacted entries, Entry 12 would likely have to do with the impending formation of the O5—or perhaps Legion’s birth? And 35 probably involves Inferno. But why show these when so many others aren’t shown at all?! Obviously: to keep us guessing and puzzling.
What’s really curious, though, is how intermittent Moira’s journaling is.
VI. Year 10, Yesterday: Xavier & Magneto’s “Soft” Coup (pgs32-40)
Yesterday? Does this particular meeting between the Krakoan statesmen and the woman who made it all possible take place on the same day as the celebration we see both at the end here and in HOX 6?
No. The Krakoan sovereignty celebration, which is already underway during the first Quiet Council session, occurs the day after this meeting.
Recall: In HOX 6, the QC session and the Krakoan celebration occur “now”; this No-Space meeting is “yesterday”—but one or two days after UN recognition; the villains’ homecoming in HOX 5 has already happened or is just about to. We also see here that Xavier’s helmet throughout HOX/POX is the same as the one he donned in Moira’s No-Space “one month ago” (for his big global announcement).
Now let’s get to why this meeting is so important. First, this is Moira’s Year 10 moment. While we saw her in the present in HOX 6, she didn’t get much of a role there; it was almost more of a cameo. Before now, we’ve only seen all three players really interact previously in HOX/POX in their Year 1 meeting in POX 2, on Island M. Back then, there seemed to be a grand hope leavening the despair of Moira’s lifetimes. Here, each appears as their own brand of ice-veined cynic—so Magneto’s wooden joke is spot-on. The possibilities inherent in their HOX 6 No-Space meeting feel like they’ve receded, replaced now by imminent negatives—great from an ongoing storytelling perspective!
And this is where the other shoe begins to drop:
But this is where it, quietly perhaps, hits the floor:
This is a coup, against Moira. She’s fearful of mutantkind knowing the truth that she’s experienced firsthand across ten lifetimes. But Xavier and Magneto are living the only life they know; presumably, memories from Moira’s lives have faded from their minds, or softened, becoming less threatening, distant, and open to interpretation.
So, these two have a new truth: “This time it’s going to be different,” the man in black says. And the knight in shining white concludes, “For we are different.” And they assure her “that is all because of you.” And so, they begin to dismiss her. Krakoa will continue on as a nation without Moira’s assistance.
Which is inevitable. That was her plan, too. Or at least, no one else is supposed to know she’s alive. But that makes it easy for her compatriots to supersede her now, because they actually do have to run a nation.
Although Xavier and Magneto haven’t made a cogent case for why they must run it as a dyarchy.
The last few pages are drawn by Pepe Larraz, though only three are repeated from HOX 6. The last two are new—but so is the voiceover, presumably Magneto’s.
In HOX 6, Xavier’s voiceover was carried on from the breakup of the first QC session, with him justifying morally degrading statecraft.
Here, it’s Magneto congratulating Moira on all her achievements, before telling her to step aside. On pg38, where he says this in voiceover, he’s also standing next to Xavier in the present moment—just as in HOX 6—but now his statement “Just look at what we have made” feels much more troubling. The juxtaposition is clear: They’re leaving her out of any further discussion. Meanwhile, her erstwhile lover and ally in Life Nine sits back in the shadows, brooding.
This can’t end well.
The thing is, when they look up into the Ewok village set piece for this night of celebration, these two are ready to urge the human world to attack them now (“Let them try to stop us this time”), but this image is starkly in contrast with the weaponized posthumans pictured earlier in Year 1000.
We see Xavier and Magneto celebrating their people’s supposed supremacy when those people themselves seem to be partying in celebration of simply being together in a nation of their own. The Year 1000 image shows the posthumans as supremacists, all wearing the same uniform, flying in a more orderly formation, ready to take down mutantkind.
In other words, Xavier and Magneto will soon enough feel compelled to turn the celebrating youth of Krakoa into stormtroopers. But how many will really want to fall for that?
And how many Krakoans would really care to parse Magneto’s political showmanship in Jerusalem? Hazarding a wild guess, I’d say—virtually no one … except maybe the likes of Exodus.
However, these questions must now be put on hold! For next time, we enter the Dawn of X, beginning with X-Men vol5 #1. (Also note that Hickman had planned to answer the burning questions of HOX/POX sooner, but then there was a pandemic, plus this soft reboot turned out to be far more popular than anticipated, allowing creative teams to stretch it out a bit… at least until Inferno 2021.)